The TrustAfrica non-governmental organisation (NGO) has held a two-day meeting in Dakar, Senegal centred on the challenges posed by illicit financial flows (IFFs) from Africa, with particular focus on the West Africa region.

The meeting aimed to provide an opportunity for civil society to discuss the subject and work together to find viable options for mitigating the risks of IFFs that are widely considered a danger to economic development in the region.

More research needed

Executive director of TrustAfrica, Ebrima Sali, told the meeting that more research is needed into government practices and the effects of policies adopted to mitigate IFFs and underlined the need for cooperation with countries worldwide because IFFs are a global phenomenon.

Director of research and planning at the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), Mu’azu Umaru, pointed out the lack of agreement on what constitutes IFFs.

He added that the IFFs are often difficult to track and trace. Where the funds are traced, repatriation of the funds has proved very difficult.

Politically exposed persons

Umaru described the process of securing political will and mobilising political actors to fight against IFFs as a “Herculean task”.

He noted that multinational companies closely associated with politically exposed persons are very much implicated in the generation, transfer and sharing of IFFs.

NGO background

TrustAfrica was launched in 2006 backed by a US$30 million commitment from the Ford Foundation, which is still listed as one of the NGO’s current funders alongside several others, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the government of the Netherlands.

The NGO seeks to strengthen African initiatives that help secure conditions for democracy, foster African enterprise, and cultivate African resources for democracy and development.